Freytag, Gustav(go͝o`stäf frī`täkh), 1816–95, German novelist and playwright. He taught at the Univ. of Breslau and edited the Grenzboten (1848–70). His most successful play, The Journalists (1855, tr. 1888), is an adroit comedy of small-town life and politics. Best known today are his realistic novels Soll und Haben (1855, tr. Debit and Credit, 1856), Die verlorene Handschrift (1864, tr. The Lost Manuscript, 1865), and his ambitious series of German historical novels, Die Ahnen (1873–81, tr. of selections Ingo and Ingraban, 1873).
Born July 13, 1816, in Kreuzburg, Silesia; died Apr. 30, 1895, in Wiesbaden. German writer.
Freytag studied philology at the universities of Breslau and Berlin between 1835 and 1838. Although initially sympathetic to the ideas of Junges Deutschland, he gradually adopted the national liberal ideas of the preimperialist period. In his comedy The Journalists (1854; Russian translation, 1896), Freytag exposed the corruption and unscrupulous character of the periodical press. His historical novel of manners Debit and Credit (1855; Russian translation, 1858), which is marked by a philistine moral outlook and nationalistic bias, unfolds a program for the development of German agriculture along capitalist lines and for the strengthening of national commerce. Freytag’s extensive studies in cultural history resulted in Pictures of German Life (1859) and a series of historical novels, The Ancestors (1872–80), that describes the fortunes of many generations of a German family.
WORKSGesammelte Werke, 2nd ed., vols. 1–22. Leipzig, 1896–98.
In Russian translation:
Kartiny srednevekovoi zhizni. Moscow, 1868.
Kartiny iz proshlogo Germanii. St. Petersburg, 1913.
REFERENCESIstoriia nemetskoi literatury, vol. 4. Moscow, 1968.
Mehring, F. Literaturno-kriticheskie stat’i. Moscow-Leningrad, 1934. (Translated from German.)